Tag Archives: supernatural monsters

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

Bibliographic information: Paper Valentine. Brenna Yovanoff. Razor Bill, 2013. $17.99. 304p. ISBN-13:  9781595145994.
Summary: Hannah’s best friend, Lillian, died a few months ago, but that doesn’t deter her from hanging around, in the form of a ghost. Little girls start showing up dead in the park, which is the center of her small town, and now with the urging of Lillian, Hannah puts herself to the task of catching the killer. With the help from the ghosts of the murdered girls and through the crime scene photos she was able to sneak a look at, Hannah has found a lead.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This haunting tale weaves a story filled with friendly ghosts out to catch their murderers. It’s sad when your best friend is a ghost, but Hannah doesn’t seem to mind. Nobody may be able to see her but she is always there to lend advice, even when a string of murders attracts Hannah’s attention. Through her ghostly friend, Hannah develops into a strong-willed character who takes charge when she normally would have followed. Everybody hates losing a friend and Hannah’s character shows what happens when you try to hold on to somebody who isn’t there anymore. But she is able to cope with her loss and move on with her life while still respecting her friend in a much healthier way. Teens will be able to relate to Hannah’s situation and they won’t want to put this book down. Mystery, horror, fantasy, and humor. This book has it all.
Readers’ annotation: With the help of her best friend, who just happens to be a ghost, Hannah is able to pursue the serial killer who is haunting her town.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book are helpful and friendly. They will give readers the sense that they do not need to fear such beings because they will not harm you. It is a great coping mechanism for someone who is frightened by ghosts. Also, it does a great job of show how a teen has had to cope with the loss of her best friend and will give teens in similar situations some perspective on the matter.
Issues present: This book has both ghosts and serial killers/murders both of which are objectionable topics in a teen book. However, children can use this book to help them fight their fears and understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. Also, serial killers are not very common but they are real and children should understand this.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Hannah’s character and her friend Lillian.
P. 14 from “It used to shock me…” to “…I was the only one who ever seemed to miss her.” – introduces parts of plot.
P. 126 second full paragraph to end of page. – describes crime scene, adds to plot.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts and serial killers, death
Readalikes:  Name of the Star, I Hunt Killers, Game, Hollow series
Author’s website:  http://brennayovanoff.com/
Awards: Recommended Reads List for Young Adults (2013)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Paper-Valentine-Brenna-Yovanoff/pid=5834338; School Library Journal: http://blogs.slj.com/teacozy/2013/01/08/review-paper-valentine/, http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=20274153.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59514-599-4
Why I chose it: Brenna Yovanoff is a favorite author of mine and I thought this one would be a great addition to my collection because it discussed serial killers and ghosts.

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The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Name of the Star. Maureen Johnson. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. $16.99. 372p. ISBN-13:  9780399256608.
Summary: Aurora “Rory” is from a small swamp town just outside of New Orleans and she has just moved to London for her parents work. She will be starting at the Wexford boarding school in just a few days. However, upon arrival in London there appears to be a Jack the Ripper copycat and her school just so happens to be in the neighborhood. All Rory wanted to do was be a normal girl and get through high school, but she is soon swept up in the Ripper murders and becomes an unlikely target in an unexplainable string up murders.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This thrilling tale of ghosts and murder will captivate young readers from page one. Rory is a strong female protagonist who is down to earth and easy to get along with. Readers will find themselves becoming her friend. She is depicted as an American Southern who moves to London and cannot seem to stay out of trouble or keep her mouth shut. Talking is a sport for Rory. The friends she meet are as realistic as Rory even among all the fantasy happening around them and they will speak to teens on a personal level. Johnson writes with skill and the words flow off one another pooling together to create a wonderful story. An addictive book that will be enjoyed by young adults.
Readers’ annotation: Rory just moved to London in Jack the Ripper territory. 100 years later, the murders are occurring again.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book will be great at helping children understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. The book depicts them as mostly harmless, lost souls. This will lend help to children who fear ghosts.
Issues present: This book has both serial killers/murderers and ghosts. People might think that this book is too scary for their children and object to the title. Also, people tend to feel highly against supernatural monsters in children books. However, children use books to help fight their fears of ghosts as well as understand that bad people are out there, but there are also a lot of people there to protect you.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Aurora “Rory’s” character.
Pg. 43 starting with, “I took a big, deep breath to prepare for my angel voice…” until the paragraph ends on the next page – Describes her near-death experience.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts, serial killer, Jack the Ripper
Readalikes: Hallow, Paper Valentine, The Christopher Killer, Anya’s Ghost
Author’s website: http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html
Awards: Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2012)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Name-of-the-Star-Maureen-Johnson/pid=4922969; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-05-62791-1120889.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4418-6636-3; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/maureen-johnson/name-star/
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows how much I like books about ghosts and serial killers.

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The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1). Jonathan Stroud. Miramax, 2003. $17.95. 462p. ISBN-13:  9780786818594.
Summary:  After incurring the wrath of Simon Lovelace, a powerful magician, ten-year old Nathanial, a magician’s apprentice, decides to summon a 5,000 year old djinni named Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace. Bartimaeus could care less what his assignment is, he just wants to get back to the spirit world and be left in peace. The djinni’s sole goal is to get the amulet and then get back at Nathanial for summoning him. Bartimaeus preferred his earlier master, Ptolemy, to Nathanial and takes every opportunity to say so. Although, since this is a rather difficult assignment, Bartimaeus and Nathanial get caught up in a flood of magic, rebellion, and murder that the two have to work together to survive.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: grade 6 and up
Review: Filled with interesting characters and a plethora of magic, this book will catch your attention and pull you in for a tantalizing ride. The tale is narrated by Bartimaues, a 5,000 year old djinni, who takes sarcastic to a new level. His hilarious script paired with the dark and foreboding tale makes for an intriguing story that is sure to lure you in and you won’t want to wait for the sequels. Stroud’s elaborate descriptions and great details make the images of the story pop into your head. While narrating the story Bartimaeus will make side comments that are numbered and can be found at the bottom of the pages in Chicago style writing. Tweens will get a kick out of the crazy tricks that Bartimaeus and Nathanial pull off together.
Readers’ annotation: Nathanial feels confident enough in his magical powers to summon up a 5,000-year-old djinn, but he is in for a rude awakening.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The various supernatural monsters in this book would help children fight their fears. Many teens have monsters in their lives that they are afraid of and reading about some will help them cope and get past these fears whether they be make-believe or real.
Issues present: There is magic and supernatural monsters present in this novel that people may object to. It may go against their beliefs and they will not want their children reading such things, however, children use such books to fight their fears against monsters make-believe and real. Also, different viewpoints on religion gives children a broader scope of the world.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nathanial and Bartimaeus’s characters,
What happens when you summon a 5,000 year old djinni who thinks he’s a know it all?
Genre or subject: Fantasy: magic, djinn/demons, wizards
Readalikes: Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Demon Lexicon, Hex Hall, The Golden Compass
Author’s website: http://www.jonathanstroud.com/
Awards: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2004)
Reviews: Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jonathan-stroud/the-amulet-of-samarkand/; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-11762353.xml; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Amulet-of-Samarkand-Jonathan-Stroud/pid=4545860; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7868-1859-4
Why I chose it: I found this book a the list of challenged books while I was working on one of my projects for class and thought I would read it and add it to my collection.

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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

The Halloween Tree

Bibliographic information: The Halloween Tree. Ray Bradbury. Yearling, 1972. $5.50. 145p. ISBN-13:  9780375803017.
Summary:  A group of eight friends, all boys, get all dressed up in their best costumes and head out to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. They soon discover that a ninth Friend, Pipkin, has been taken away on an adventure that could be the end of his life. With the help of a shrouded guy named Moundshroud, the boys chase after their friend across space and through time. Traveling through such places as Ancient Egypt and Greek all the way to Mexico on the Day of the Dead. The origins of Halloween is revealed through their travels, as well as, the role of death and how it has shaped civilization.Will the boys reach Pipkin in time to save him and will he be the same in the end?
Reading level and interest level: RL: ages 10 and up IL: ages 12 and up
Review: Ray Bradbury’s work always has a meaningful core that slaps you in the face and makes you understand things on a whole new level and that is just what The Halloween Tree does. The Halloween Tree represents the influences for the traditions of different cultures have about Halloween and how they all merge into one. Pipkin is taken on a journey of life and death and his friends chase after him trying to keep him alive, along the way they learn the origins of Halloween and how other cultures celebrate the holiday. In the end, each boy gives up a year of his life for Pipkin so that he can live. Children will love this story’s lyrical text and learning about the origins of Halloween.
Readers’ annotation: On the night of Halloween 8 friends are swept away by the devil on a fantastical adventure to chase after a ninth friend who is battling death.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book discusses the death of a friend. Teens can read this book as a way to cope with a friend of theirs who may be struggling with a terminal disease or with a friend who has died. The kids in this book are brave and able to look death in the eye as a way to help their friend through this tough time. This will encourage kids to not be afraid of their situation.
Issues present: Many people may think that this title is too scary for young adults. It mentions death casually and has some scary creatures that could be considered frightening to some. However, children could use this book as a way to fight their fears of death and dying and be able to look at it with a different perspective. Also, they can fight their fears of things that go bump in the night be reading about these courageous kids and their adventures.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce various characters. – especially Pipkin.
Talk about general idea of Halloween, then how it used to be.
Would you take a ride with the devil, Death himself?
Genre or subject: Fantasy: Halloween, death
Readalikes:  A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Secret of the Indian
Author’s website: http://www.raybradbury.com/
Awards: N/A
Reviews:  Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ray-bradbury/the-halloween-tree/
Why I chose it: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a long known challenged book. Many of his other works are just as likely to be challenged and I wanted to add something of his to my collection, but Fahrenheit 451 is long overdone, so I decided on this one for my collection. Not as many people have heard of it, and it was a favorite movie of mine when I was younger.

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)

Bibliographic information: A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L’Engle. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1962. $6.99. 211p. ISBN-13:  9780312367541.
Summary:  Meg Murry is seen as a troublesome kid by her classmates and her teachers, but her parents she her as a little girl capable of great things. Her mother and father are scientist, her twin ten-year old bothers are athletes, and her five-year old brother, Charles Wallace, is a genius, however, her father is missing in action. One dark and stormy night, the Murry’s are visited by a Mrs. Whatsit, who comes in to dry her feet. Mrs. Whatsit tells Mrs. Murry that the “tesseract” is real, causing her to almost faint with disbelief. The next day Meg discovers the tesseract is a scientific concept that her father was working with before he went missing. Meg, Charles Wallace, and a friend, Calvin, venture out to hopefully find Meg’s father.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 9 and up
Review: This beautifully written novel is the winner of the Newbery Medal of 1963, among other awards and nominees. Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe are wonderful characters that grow and evolve throughout the book. They are brave, intelligent, and sincere characters that can either stand alone or work as a group. The worlds L’Engle has created are artfully crafted from elements of fantasy and science fiction the mingle into a whole new experience that will keep your mind reeling from beginning to end. Children will love the adventure and creative creatures who inhabit the various planets Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin visit. The adventure doesn’t end here, look for the sequels.
Readers’ annotation: Her father has gone missing and now Meg must travel through time and space to find him. What kinds of creatures will she meet on her travels?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book sends the message that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome any obstacle. Meg leads us on a quest of finding out who she is and how she can help others in the world. She started out not able to focus with her studies, but turned out to be able to focus her skills she did have and use them productively. Teens who have trouble focusing in school will see this character and be able to understand that they are not alone, others have the same problem, but there are ways to get passed it.
Issues present: This book has been challenges countless times since it was published in 1962. People thought that it was not appropriate for the age group. There is some violence and even some manipulation. Also, people either felt that it was overtly religious or anti-religious depending on how you looked at it. And the supernatural creatures were seen as satanic. Children are very resilient and a book like this opens the imagination and helps them cope with parts of their lives that they have a hard time explaining.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace’s characters.
Talk about travel through time and space.
A land of many creatures…
Genre or subject: Science fiction and fantasy: supernatural monsters, religion
Readalikes: The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland
Author’s website: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/
Awards: Newbery Medal (1963), Sequoyah Book Award (1965)
Reviews:  Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/madeline-lengle/wrinkle-time-lengle/
Why I chose it: This book is a classic and has been challenged many times over the years. It is a great addition to anybody’s collection.

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Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Tantalize (Tantalize, #1)

Bibliographic information: Tantalize. Cynthia Leitich Smith. Candlewick Press, 2007. $16.99. 310p. ISBN-13:  9780763627911.
Summary:  Quincie Morris and her uncle have taken over the family restaurant and have decided to create a new theme that will catch more attention, vampires. Quincie is working hard to get the restaurant done in time for it to reopen, but a series of gruesome murders, that seem to have been animal attacks, puts things at a stand still. Quincie’s best friend, and love interest, is a half werewolf and may just be the prime suspect for the murders, and he is looking to leave town soon anyway so that he can study how to be a werewolf. When the restaurant’s chef is murdered, it leaves Quincie and her uncle scrambling to find a new chef that can create a new menu and pull off the vampire ensemble. The new hired chef, Henry Johnson, seems to be the perfect fit for the job and he plays the role of the vampire quite well, almost too well.
Reading level and interest level: RL:  14 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Taking you back to a more traditional vampire tale, Tantalize will captivate you. You can tell Smith did a lot of research into her vampire and were myths. Told in the first person point of view of protagonist Quincie Morris, this is a love story but with so much more. Smith does a great job with developing her characters, especially with Quincie and Kieren. Quincie is trying to get a grip on the news of soon becoming a vampire, while her best friend Kieren is struggling with being a half-breed werewolf and his impending departure to go study with other were-people. One of the wonderful things about Smiths were-people is that there are more than just werewolves, there are also were-possums, were-armadillos, and others, all native to Texas. The format of her novel is delectable and creative, with its sections that come from a menu, starting with your appetizer all the way to your dessert and wine. This was very clever of Smith; it fits right in with the main setting of the book, a vampire themed restaurant.  The ambiance she sets is one that makes you feel like you are participating in an elaborate and elegant play.
Readers’ annotation: Meet Bradly, Vampire Chef. Try the creamed squirrels, they are delectable. Although, there is a slight side effect, you’ll turn into a vampire.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book is filled with supernatural monsters and would be a great place for children to face their fears of any monsters they may have in their life and fight back against them, just like Quincie does and defeat them. Being able to read about monsters will give children courage to fight their fear of monsters, whether they be real or imagined monsters.
Issues present: Books with supernatural monsters tend to be challenged and this book has vampires, were-creatures, and angels, but books such as this one are a great place for children to fight their fears they may have of monsters, real or imagined.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Quincie’s character.
Come sit down for dinner and meet our vampire chef.
Genre or subject: fantasy: vampires, supernatural monsters, angels, were-creatures
Readalikes:  Twilight series,  A Touch Mortal, The Vampire Diaries, City of Bones
Author’s website: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/
Awards: Top Ten pick, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) list of 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in the “What’s Cooking?” category (“tasty reads to fill your belly and warm your soul”); Borders Original Voices Nominee, March 2007; Featured title, 2007 National Book Festival; 2007-2008 Tayshas List; Chapters (Canada) Junior Advisory Board (JAB) pick; Featured title, 2007 Texas Book Festival; BBYA nominee; Featured title, 2007 Kansas Book Festival; Cybils nominee; Featured title, Readergirlz 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens
Reviews:  Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-2791-1; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-42637131.xml
Why I chose it: I was interested in how angels and vampires went together because you do not often see them in the same novels.

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Bibliographic information: City of Bones. Cassandra Clare. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007. $21.99. 485p. ISBN-13:  9781416914280.
Summary: Clary went to a club with her best friend Simon and stumbled upon a group of kids who were hurting a boy, and then one of the kids murdered the boy claiming he was a demon. Clary is shocked to find out that nobody else can see these kids or the murder that just took place. The next day, the murderer, Jace, runs into Clary at the coffee shop and offers to take her to his tutor so that he can explain about the demons and know that Jace was telling the truth. However, she receives a distressed call from her mother and runs home to see what is wrong. Upon returning to home, Clary and Jace, who followed her, are met with a monstrous creature, a Ravener demon, and no mom in sight. Clary takes down the demon with Jace’s Sensor, but is hurt in the process, so Jace takes her to his home, The Institute. The Institute is within an old Gothic cathedral and is invisible to outsiders, being concealed magically by glamour. Clary recuperated and immediately goes about trying to find her mother, where she learns a lot more than she thought she would. She is a Shadowhunter, just like Jace.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 14 and up IL: 12 and up
Review: Being the first novel in the Mortal Instrument series, City of Bones is a fantastical novel. This is a compelling tale, that fantasy loving teenagers will fall all over, about what it is like to live in the Underworld with all the creatures that go bump in the night. Clary is a character who is struggling with her emotions and trying to come to terms with the new information she has just learned about herself and her family all the while trying to find her missing mother and save her. Clary, Jace, and Simon take us on a dangerous journey to face off against the main antagonist of this story, Valentine, and ultimately unravel even more of a mystery that will be discovered in the rest of the series. From vampires to werewolves, and angels to demons, this story has it all. If you were not a fan of one of them before, you just may be after you read this novel. There is one disturbing aspect of this novel that even as you read it you know it can’t be true because it just wouldn’t be right, but nonetheless it is still disturbing almost to the end of the third book when you find out the truth you knew was there.
Readers’ annotation: Prowl through the underworld and take down the evil monsters who live there. This is what Shadowhunters do, and Clary just discovered that she is one.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Simon and Clara are both struggling to come to terms with who they are and who they are going to be in the near future. This is a common fear among young adults, especially high school students who are thinking about what they are going to do after they graduate. Not all people like to read realistic fiction, so if they are fans of fantasy or science fiction they can read City of Bones and know that they are not the only ones who are struggling to understand and figure out herself.
Issues present: Supernatural monsters and a forbidden love between siblings(?) will leave parents and teacher not wanting their children to read this book. Although, monsters have been a topic of interest among children for ages and allowing them to read about something they may fear will help give them courage to fight their fears. Also, the love interest is not as horrible as it seems from first glance and sometimes children feel attracted to people they are not supposed to and this book will help them cope with that.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Clara’s character.
Clary just found out she is a Shadowhunter…
Vampires, werewolves, fairies, demons, and angels…
Genre or subject: Fantasy: angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, fairies, supernatural monsters, love, relationships
Readalikes:  Tantalize, Kelley Armstrong books, Beautiful Creatures, Wicked Lovely, Harry Potter
Author’s website: http://www.cassandraclare.com/
Awards: South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2010), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2008), Georgia Peach Honor Book Award (2009), Abraham Lincoln Award (2010)
Reviews:  Kirkus Review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/cassandra-clare/city-of-bones-3/; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4169-1428-0
Why I chose it: The Mortal Instruments series is absolutely wonderful. It is the perfect fantasy/love story, it has a bit of everything in it. Although , I have heard that her Infernal Devices is better, but I am waiting until they are all out to read them.

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